Santa Avelina, Guatemala

The country of Guatemala is the only one in Central America with a majority of indigenous people. Fifty-one percent of its population is of Mayan descent, and this ancient culture lives on in many traditions you will experience firsthand. You will spend your first weekend exploring the capital, Guatemala City, which has distinctive historic and modern neighborhoods.

Your climb up into the mountains by bus will begin with an overnight stop in Chichicastenango, where 98 percent of the population is indigenous. Its market is renowned for an abundance of local crafts, food, pottery, tools, and livestock. The next day, when you arrive in Santa Avelina, a beautiful small town containing the William M. Botnan School, you will be warmly welcomed.

Your lodging will consist of cots placed in classrooms, and you will eat all your meals at the school. Hand-pressed corn tortillas, fresh eggs, all local ingredients — a foodie’s paradise! You will be paired with a teacher and interpreter (if needed) for five days of coaching. At the conclusion of the trip, the entire team will travel to Antigua by way of one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, Lago de Atitlán.

Trip Itinerary

Day 1 — Guatemala City 

Arriving at the Guatemala City airport, you will be met by a T2T-I representative who will accompany you to your hotel. The team will gather for dinner at a nearby restaurant. The rest of the evening will allow for unpacking, getting acquainted, and an early bedtime if you choose.

Day 2 — Transit and Chichicastenango

Your day begins with breakfast at the delicious hotel buffet (huevos, tamales, and watermelon juice are particular specialties). A morning planning meeting will end in plenty of time for you to visit the sites of Guatemala City, which range from the Zone 1 historic district to the stunning views from surrounding hillsides. At the conclusion of the day, the team will load onto a bus and travel five hours to the large mountain town of Chichicastenango. You will spend the night at a lodge near the center of town.

Day 3 — Chichicastenango and Transit

After a morning meeting and another breakfast of local dishes, you will have the afternoon to experience the famous open-air market in Chichicastenango. Among the hundreds of items for sale, you will want to seek out the textiles, most notably the colorful, hand-woven huipils. The final portion of the bus ride to Santa Avelina (approximately seven hours) will occupy the rest of the day. Your lodging for this portion of the trip will be at the school. You will sleep on a cot in the classroom and will share the use of a shower and bathroom.

Day 4 — Santa Avelina 

Before beginning our classroom observation day, we will hold a brief orientation meeting. You will then meet the most important person in your week: your local partner teacher. After some conversation, lunch will be affectionately prepared by volunteers using locally sourced ingredients. You will begin to experience your partner’s classroom and then gather for a school-wide professional development session. During the evening, the team will discuss the day as a group by asking, What did you learn?

Day 5 — Santa Avelina  

During the morning, you will deliver the lesson you have prepared and then discuss it with your partner. You will find this conversation to be anything but one-sided, as most participants realize they have as much wisdom to receive as they have to give. One-on-one meetings and a group professional development session will occupy the afternoon. You will eat dinner with the team and then discuss answers to the question, What surprised you today?

Day 6 — Santa Avelina 

While the students are at school in the morning, you and your partner will co-teach a lesson. Your one-on-one meeting will focus on how she/he and her/his students experienced it and what elements could benefit the classroom. Another professional development session will follow. Questions to process as a group in the evening are What did or did not go as well as you’d like? and How will this knowledge affect you tomorrow?

Day 7 — Santa Avelina  

This day’s content is flexible, because each participant-partner pairing will have different loose ends to tie up. You will be available to answer any remaining questions and to celebrate the myriad accomplishments of previous days. You will have very brief individual meetings to wrap up the week and plan for maintaining contact in the future. Be sure to bring tissues, because this final day has been known to elicit tears!

day8Day 8 — Lake Atitlán and Transit

The team will depart early in the morning to drive six hours by bus to Lake Atitlán, known as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. After eating lunch outdoors at a lakeside cafe, we will reboard the bus for the remaining journey to Guatemala City. Your evening will comprise dinner at one of the fantastic restaurants near the hotel in the trendy Zone 10.

Day 9 — Guatemala City 

With a full heart and an entire scrapbook of memories, today is for departures. Transportation to the airport will be arranged for you.


While in Guatemala City and Antigua, you will be staying in safe, clean, tourist-class hotels. The food provided at these hotels is delicious and authentic.

During your time in Santa Avelina, the physical rigors of the trip become more strenuous. For example, you will sleep on cots in the school, which can get chilly at night. Two to three people will share each classroom. You will also climb stairs in school and when you’re out in the community. You will share bathrooms with other team members (there are four bathrooms and two showers in the school).

Volunteers from the village will cook for our team. Wifi is available but very limited and may require a surcharge.

A William M. Botnan third grade classroom before students arrive
A William M. Botnan third grade classroom before students arrive
Local teachers and visiting T2T-I team members share a meal
A fourth grade classroom with cots set up for T2T-I team members
A fourth grade classroom with cots set up for T2T-I team members

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